Sony Music Promotes Execs In Australia, Asia
Sony must not be afraid to change if it hoped "to grow in a Sony-like way," Hirai told reporters at the Japanese electronics and entertainment company's Tokyo head office.
Hirai pointed to image sensors that are used in devices such as smartphones and self-parking cars, entertainment operations such as film, music, TV programming and the PlayStation game business as potential areas for growth.
The video-and-sound unit will become more independent by October, he said. Other parts of Sony's sprawling empire may also be spun off, such as computer chips and batteries, but details were not yet decided, said Hirai.
Sony will also invest in innovative areas, including through acquisitions and partnerships, although he didn't announce specific deals, according to Hirai.
Sony said it still sees its film division as a driver of growth. It has said it does not expect long-term damage from the cyberattack that became public in December, over a Sony Pictures movie called The Interview which spoofs an assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The film has been released in independent theaters and through Internet outlets.
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Sony CFO Kenichiro Yoshida, whose no-nonsense approach has been credited as a key factor in Sony's recent recovery, will be made executive deputy president to add to his corporate executive officer and CFO titles, the conglomerate also announced on Wednesday.
Yoshida's rise has been rapid since his appointment by Hirai two years ago, and the latest reorganization and focus on return on equity fit into his approach.
Once an icon of Japan Inc. praised for introducing products such as the Walkman portable music player, Sony has run into serious trouble in recent years as it fell behind in areas including smartphones and flat-panel TVs.
Hirai acknowledged the company had failed to keep abreast of changing times. Splitting out divisions will help make it more nimble, making each operation more accountable for results, he said.
Sony spun off its TV unit last year and exited the personal computer business.
Sony is expecting a loss of 170 billion yen ($1.4 billion) for the fiscal year through March. It had a 40 billion yen loss last fiscal year.
While encouraging autonomy in its divisions, Sony must still work as one, and keeping that balance is critical, Hirai said.
When asked about his responsibility after leading the company for three years, a question common for chiefs of embattled Japanese companies, Hirai acknowledged he had won some and lost some. But he made it clear he wasn't about to step down.
"My responsibility lies in taking my company to the next stage of growth," he said.
Sony shares have more than doubled in price on the Tokyo Stock Exchange over the past year on hopes of a recovery. Sony closed Wednesday at 3,174.5 yen, up 1.6 percent.
Billboard's request for comment on the new measures wasn't immediately returned.